The book concludes a brief case study of the ode, whose complicated evolution in the Romantic period encapsulates the generic currents and counter-currents traced in previous chapters. One of the oldest and most conventionalized of genres, the ode now underwent frenzied innovation and experiment, towards internalization and self-reflexivity in one development, towards greater ideological utility in another. Paradoxically, Romanticism witnessed the genre's greatest flowering but also its incipient demise. The ode's dominance in the poetic hierarchy (making it a ‘royal genre’, in Opacki's sense) is suggested by its aesthetic accomplishments and by its influence on neighbouring genres; yet increasingly the ode is displaced into other lyric forms, and odic devices begin to function independently of the ode form itself. This presents problems of classification—when is a transformed ode not an ode?—illustrated by writers' hesitation over generic labels and other paratexts.
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